Hope for the future is the only thing some NHL teams have right now. For the bottom 10 teams in the league last year, their hopes are pinned on the players of the future to push their programs forward.
Let's look at those 10 bottom teams and the top prospect that gives them hope going forward.
Anaheim Ducks - Mason McTavish
I'm still mad that Anaheim didn't get Connor Bedard. They deserved him. Could you imagine Bedard on this team? It would have been the closest thing to Team North America from the 2016 World Cup.
The number one prospect in the Ducks pool is Mason McTavish. He finished third in rookie scoring last season with 43 points in 80 games. He'll never be an elite scoring center, but McTavish could easily be near a point-per-game player who's excellent defensively, adding a lot of much-needed stability to this roster.
Columbus Blue Jackets - Adam Fantilli
I'm surprised Columbus was able to nab Fantilli third overall last year. He destroyed the NCAA in 22-23 with 30 goals and 65 points in 36 games as a freshman. Now put him on a team with Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine?! And his points total is only 46.5. Forty-six point five?!?!
|46.5 (-125)||46.5 (-105)|
Fantilli could have a big year, he could easily hit his season points total, and challenge Connor Bedard for the Calder Trophy as he pulls Columbus out of the gutter.
Chicago Blackhawks - Connor Bedard
Have you heard of this kid Connor Bedard? The number one overall pick from 2023 is already giving us highlight reel clips with a Hawks jersey. And we're still in the preseason.
Connor Bedard shows off his insane shot pic.twitter.com/BPq7ONHJ7v— Hockey Realm (@hockey_realm) September 17, 2023
San Jose Sharks - William Eklund
I've loved this kids' game for a while now. I remember watching him for SHL side Djurgardens and just loving his dynamism for a player of his age. Add a 41-point (in 54 games) AHL season last year and he's the Sharks most exciting prospect right now.
Don't forget this kid has 17 NHL games already under his belt and has seven points in those 17 games.
Montreal Canadiens - Cole Caufield
The Habs future is all about Goal Caufield. There's a reason Caufield was given an eight-year $62.8 million deal ($7.85 million AAV). In 123 NHL games, he's already scored 53 goals or 0.43 goals per game. And he's only 22! He's going to get better so long as Montreal can give him more talent to work with.
|32.5 (-120)||32.5 (-110)|
Can he fill the net enough to hit his goal total on the season? With a goal total of 32.5 I have a hard time rushing to smash the OVER. And that's less about Caufield and more about this Habs team that hasn't improved on paper enough to clear enough space for him to find enough opportunities.
Arizona Coyotes - Logan Cooley
The 'Yotes have been looking for hope for years now. Logan Cooley might just be the hope they've wanted. In pre-season, the third overall pick from 2022 is already scoring headline-worthy goals.
LOGAN COOLEY HAS ARRIVED ‼️ pic.twitter.com/vHGGzHWZuk— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 23, 2023
Books haven't set a line on Cooley's points total for the season, but you have to think it would be equal or less than Adam Fantilli's 46.5. A line I think Cooley would surpass, assuming he lines up with guys like Clayton Keller and Jason Zucker.
It’s all about Matvei Michkov. The Russian forward is absolutely electric. And while he won’t hit the NHL for some time, the Flyers believe he can be the leader of their turnaround when he does get to the Show.
At the KHL level, arguably the second-best league in the world, Michkov has 25 points in 31 games. As an 18 year old. You can see why the Flyers and GM Danny Briere believe they’ve got a star in the making.
For Washington, the future rests on Ryan Leonard. The eighth overall pick from the 2023 draft won’t be making the NHL this year, but they’ve got big hopes for the Boston College commit.
In his draft year, Leonard scored a ridiculous 114 points in 74 games for the US National Development Program.
Detroit Red Wings
You could pick from a number of players on the Red Wings roster. But I’m going with Lucas Raymond. He’s going into his third year in the NHL. So he’s not a prospect by the classic definition of the term, but he’s a young player who can still improve.
If Raymond can take the next step from a 50-60 point player to one that’s a 70-80 point player, the Red Wings likely make the postseason for the first time in eight years.
St. Louis Blues
Like Washington, the Blues' hopes are pinned on a player who won’t factor at the NHL for at least a year. Jimmy Snuggerud, their 23rd overall pick from 2022, scored 50 points in 40 games for the University of Minnesota as a freshman.
Seeing him play at the World Juniors last year where he scored 13 points in seven games for the US was eye-opening. This kid could be a star when he hits the NHL.